Devin McCourty Sees This As Key To Patriots Defensive Success

McCourty sees a direct correlation between two defensive stats


Nov 2, 2022

The New England Patriots have gotten into the backfield with regularity this season, ranking fifth in the NFL in sacks with 23.

And Patriots safety Devin McCourty sees a direct correlation between the pressure the Patriots are putting on opposing quarterbacks to the number of turnovers the team has forced. New England has recorded 16 takeaways through eight games, tied for the top mark in the league with the Philadelphia Eagles.

“Young guy, old guy, whoever you play at quarterback, I think one of the key things is always pressure,” McCourty said Wednesday following practice, which he didn’t participate in. “I don’t think anybody wants to sit back there and throw the ball and worry about getting hit. When you can do that it changes the game for us in the back, and we’ve been very fortunate. Obviously, (Matthew) Judon jumps off the screen with his play and production.

“But I would say everybody at our front. Whether it’s been (Deatrich Wise), even (Lawrence Guy) got a sack last week. So, all of those guys being disruptive up front really helps us in the back end. That will be another big thing for us this week.”

McCourty certainly is right to point out Judon, who is tied for the NFL lead in sacks with 8 1/2 with Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za’Darius Smith. Judon and the rest of the defensive front harassed New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson on Sunday as the second-year pro practically gift-wrapped a few passes to the Patriots defense.

Speeding up opposing quarterbacks into terrible decisions, as they did to Wilson, has been critical, and the Patriots have another chance to overwhelm an inexperienced signal-caller when they take on the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. The Colts have turned things over to Sam Ehlinger, and while the Patriots are aware of his ability to make plays with his legs, the Texas product is making just his second career NFL start.

Ehlinger didn’t throw any picks in a Week 8 loss to the Washington Commanders, but he was sacked twice and fumbled the ball away once.

And if the Patriots can get consistent pressure on Ehlinger, it seems in all likelihood their takeaway total will only increase.

“I don’t know how many interceptions we have without a guy in the quarterback’s face,” McCourty said. “I would have to go back and watch all of them. But from what I remember a lot of the interceptions we have it’s been somebody bearing down on the quarterback and getting a hand up or about to hit them. I think that’s led to that. And attacking the football. Guys punching at the ball, guys wrapping up tackling has been one of the keys to those takeaways. It’s something we got to keep doing.”

Thumbnail photo via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images
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